Equinor launches maritime climate ambitions

On the UN’s World Oceans Day, energy company Equinor is launching its ambitions for reducing own emissions from ships, detailing how the company will help decarbonise shipping.

Source: Equinor ASA; Image by: Einar Aslaksen
Source: Equinor ASA; Image by: Einar Aslaksen

Specifically, the company aims to halve maritime emissions in Norway by 2030 compared to 2005 emissions and halve global emissions by 2050 compared to 2008 emissions.

The ambitions for the maritime activity are said to be in line with the goals of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for global shipping and the goals set by Norwegian authorities.

What is more, as a supplier to the maritime sector, Equinor wants to escalate its production and use of low-carbon fuels by 2030 and strongly increase production and use of zero-emission fuels by 2050.

As explained, Equinor’s maritime climate ambitions are embedded in the company’s climate roadmap launched on 6 February 2020. The climate roadmap aims to ensure “a competitive and resilient business model” fit for long-term value creation and in line with the Paris agreement.

The maritime sector represents 6 per cent of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Norway and 2–3 per cent of global emissions. Being both a producer and a supplier of fuel to the maritime sector, Equinor has extensive maritime activity around the world, including around 175 vessels on contract with the company at any time.

“As a producer and user of maritime fuel, Equinor has a good opportunity to help decarbonise shipping. From our position on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS), we will develop new solutions contributing to substantial emission reductions together with the maritime industry in Norway and internationally,” Irene Rummelhoff, Equinor’s executive vice president for Marketing, Midstream and Processing (MMP), said.

Reducing carbon footprint

Equinor said it has worked systematically on reducing its carbon intensity by developing new types of vessels and using alternative fuels in close collaboration with the industry.

“Equinor has been a pioneer in using liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a fuel, and during 2021 we will introduce large-scale use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a fuel,” according to the company.

Additionally, a new hybrid battery system has been introduced for seven supply vessels on the NCS, and the next generation of dual-fuel vessels is being introduced to the fleet continuously.

The company has also, in collaboration with the maritime industry, started developing the world’s first supply vessel to run on zero-emission ammonia. Under the agreement signed with the shipowner Eidesvik Offshore, Viking Energy could become the first supply vessel in the world to run on ammonia for long distances, without any greenhouse gas emissions.

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Equinor intends to continue supporting the development of low-carbon fuels for the industry.

“In an intermediate phase, we will introduce batteries, hybrid solutions as well as LNG and LPG solutions. Our longer-term ambition is to develop value chains for zero-emission fuels to the maritime sector that will gradually replace low-carbon fuels,” Equinor further said.

“Equinor will play an important role in developing new zero-emission fuels for ships, such as hydrogen and ammonia, in combination with carbon capture and storage,” Rummelhoff continued.

“We can help establish new value chains in the sector, for example by pilot projects together with other players. We see this as an exciting business opportunity that fits the company’s strategy and technological advantages as well as Norway’s role as a laboratory for new maritime technology.”

Development of zero-emission fuels

Equinor has identified two areas for developing zero-emission fuels for the maritime sector — increasing the share of biofuel in marine fuels; and developing ammonia and hydrogen from natural gas in combination with carbon capture and storage or by electrolysis of water from renewable power. 

“A successful development of zero-emission fuels for the maritime sector will require close collaboration between the industry, shipowners, technology suppliers, international organizations and authorities,” Kjetil Johnsen, vice president for the shipping, ship technology and vetting unit at Equinor, commented.

“If we succeed, we will achieve a zero-emission shipping industry and contribute to a more sustainable use of the world oceans.”

“From 2015, Equinor has gradually renewed its tanker fleet, which is an important contribution to reaching Equinor’s ambitions. We expect the total carbon intensity for the tanker fleet to be reduced by 45% in 2025, compared to 2008,” Johnsen added.